Blockchains are hard to use. Wouldn’t it be nice to have something that makes navigating the decentralized web a bit easier? That’s where Infura comes in. It promises to make building on Ethereum easier and quicker. But in the process, does Infura make Ethereum more centralized? We find out below.
What is Infura?
Infura is a set of tools for anyone to create an application that connects to the Ethereum blockchain. It interacts with the Ethereum blockchain and runs nodes on behalf of its users.
It is used by:
“Infura essentially provides the necessary tools for any application to start developing on Ethereum immediately, without the need to run the complicated infrastructure themselves,” said Mike Godsey, Product Manager at Infura.
What problems does it solve?
Infura aims to make life easier for developers. These are some of the main bugbears:
- Storing data on Ethereum is expensive.
- It’s complicated to connect to the Ethereum blockchain.
- It’s slow to sync the blockchain.
- The Ethereum blockchain uses up a lot of space.
What advantages does it have?
By taking the weight off companies, Infura enables certain benefits:
- 🏎️ Fast – Access to the Ethereum blockchain becomes much quicker.
- 📈 Scalable – By managing the nodes, developers do not have to worry about infrastructure limits.
- 📦 Data Storage – Instead of storing it all on-chain, data can be stored separately, with just a hash stored on the blockchain.
Did you know?
In 2017, Infura relayed transactions that moved more than 7 million ether.
What is the potential flaw?
A lot of Ethereum-based applications rely on Infura to connect to the Ethereum blockchain and make transactions for their users. But Infura is a centralized service and is therefore vulnerable to attacks that may limit its functionality and it could be used to censor transactions by governments or third parties.
As more and more services use it, it centralizes the Ethereum blockchain around one company. This isn’t very decentralized.
“An average of 6.5 billion JSON-RPC requests per day on the Ethereum network are channeled through Infura infrastructure, making the project an essential pillar of the ecosystem,” said ConsenSys, an Ethereum production studio.
Why does it exist then?
Infura believes the ideal situation is for everyone to host their own node. However, this utopia is far off in the future. Until then, they aim to provide the community with a service that makes integration easier.
“The world will be decentralized when Ethereum is ubiquitous and every person is hosting his or her own node,” said Michael Wuehler, co-founder at Infura.
Perhaps the future lies in everyone having their own node and Infura will be no longer required. Until then, Infura is creating a giant on-ramp for people to use Ethereum. Until Ethereum becomes fast and easier to use, Infura’s position as a centralized guide is set to continue.